Cash Relief ∙ Economy
A Basic Income for New York City
For far too long, New York City has left behind far too many of our residents who struggle every single day to make ends meet - working people, people on the brink of eviction or currently experiencing homelessness, immigrant communities, young people, parents and so many more. COVID-19 has only exacerbated racial and economic disparities that were already ever-present in a city with marked inequality.
Well before COVID-19, by the City’s own calculations, 19.1% of New Yorkers lived in poverty - and 41.3% of New Yorkers were at risk of falling into poverty. The pandemic has exacerbated this economic reality, especially for New Yorkers of color and immigrant New Yorkers, who have been hardest hit by the pandemic and are left out of state or federal relief.
Our City is hurting - employment is scarce, people experiencing homelessness see a long road to permanent affordable housing, and members of our community returning home from incarceration have minimal support to get on their feet. But still, the resiliency of our City is what defines us. The promise of the five boroughs — that you can be born in a City hospital, get a world-class public education, attend a City university, get a great job with benefits to support your family, and find a permanent, affordable place to live — is the story of so many New Yorkers. This is the New York we want back. As we recover from COVID, we must reinvest in New Yorkers who have systematically been left behind.
Second only to housing subsidies, direct cash transfers and tax credits are the most critical components in helping families make ends meet.
A Yang administration will launch the largest basic income program in the country. Through this program, 500,000 New Yorkers with the greatest need will receive a basic income that will help give them a path forward. Our goal is to end extreme poverty in New York City by putting cash relief directly into the hands of those who desperately need help right now, ensuring that every household has an annual income that is at least above extreme poverty, taking into account the true cost of living in New York City.
This basic income program will start with providing those who are living in extreme poverty with an average of $2,000 per year. This program can then be grown over time as it receives more funding from public and philanthropic organizations, with the vision of eventually ending poverty in New York City altogether.
As studies of basic income programs have shown, lifting people up from the depths of poverty increases mental and physical health while decreasing crime. It increases happiness and satisfaction while reducing stress. It gets the economic boot off of people’s throats, allowing them to lift their heads up, breathe, and get excited for the future. By reducing crime, hospital visits, and homelessness, this basic income program will decrease the costs associated with these social ills and allow the cash relief program to grow over time.
Program Scope and Eligibility
Any New Yorker, regardless of their immigration status or life experience (ie. past experience with incarceration or the criminal justice system, experience of homelessness), will be eligible to receive cash relief.
New York City’s basic income program will be supplementary to any benefits that New Yorkers currently receive and will not be categorized as “income.” In other words, New Yorkers currently receiving SNAP, TANF, Medicaid, housing assistance and more would have no interruption to these benefits.
The Yang administration will invest $1 billion per year in cash relief, making this the largest basic income program in the country.
IDNYC and the People’s Bank of NYC
This basic income program for New York City will build on Andrew Yang’s proposal for a People’s Bank of New York City and our existing municipal identification program, IDNYC.
In 2014, New York launched the largest municipal ID program in the country - IDNYC. Currently, a physical identification card helps New Yorkers who do not currently have an ID card get one. IDNYC will become one physical platform through which New Yorkers can obtain cash relief. IDNYC cards, which already allow New Yorkers to open a bank account at select banks and credit unions in New York City, will be adopted for this program to serve as an enrollment tool.
A Yang administration will also create the People’s Bank of New York City. New Yorkers who receive this basic income automatically become participants in the People’s Bank, and cash will be directly transferred to participants in their accounts every single month. Of course, New Yorkers who already have other accounts can opt to receive the basic income there.
In total, New Yorkers receiving cash relief can simultaneously receive an IDNYC card, with all of the same benefits of the current IDNYC program, and sign up for an account with the People’s Bank of New York City.
Program Outreach, Enrollment and Administration
Upon assuming office, the Yang administration will engage in targeted outreach efforts in the neighborhoods with the lowest area median income (AMI), and among New Yorkers who are in greatest need of cash relief, to ensure that New Yorkers who would potentially benefit most from this basic income program enroll.
This program will be administered by the New York City Human Resources Administration (HRA), the agency already charged with enrolling New Yorkers in a range of benefits and services, with the oversight and support of the Mayor’s Center for Economic Opportunity, which issues an annual analysis of poverty in the five boroughs.
HRA will administer this program in partnership with City agencies who are already providing services or connected to New Yorkers in need (ie. the Department of Homeless Services, Department of Probation, Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, etc.).